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1 Prospect Court
The Broadway
Farnham Common
Bucks SL2 3QQ
01753 647339
Unit 1, Prospect Court, The Broadway, Farnham Common, Bucks SL2 3QQ - Telephone: 01753 647339

Dunstable Downs Challenge 2012

Dunstable Downs Challenge 2012

This event is organised by Dunstable Roadrunners ( and consists of three distances; nominally a half-marathon, a 20-miler and a marathon. It's a relatively small event, mostly off-road run on scenic, 'undulating' footpaths and trails on the Dunstable Downs and some navigation skills are definitely required as there are few course markings.

This year's event took place on a very warm September day. Ryan and I both decided to take on the marathon distance. Of course, being a route in 'country miles', it was over-distance and the dreaded word undulating actually meant pretty hilly in places, so we had some good, honest climbs in places.

To help navigation we had 4 full pages of details course instructions backed up by a route download for Ryan's Garmin. I'm not the greatest with route planners, so was quite happy for Ryan to take on role of chief navigator. The difficulty of the course and conditions, combined with the navigation requirements meant that we sensibly treated the run as an ultra. We planned on walking any significant climbs (as if we would have much choice!) and with only 4 water stations, we made sure we took our own drink and gels.

The runners for the 3 distances, around 200 of us in total, start off together from the Football Centre and split as the course proceeds. The scenery was very typical picture postcard English countryside, with a nice mix of rolling hills, woodland paths, etc. The event was tougher because of the hot weather but the dry spell meant that the ground was mostly firm, making things a bit easier underfoot. I wore Saucony Kinvara road trainers, which were absolutely fine. I could imagine that if there had been much rain that some sections of the course would have been quite muddy.

The directions were very good but it was nice to have the Garmin backup. We only made a couple of small deviations from the route before realising but still managed to do over 28 miles in total. To give an indication of how tough it was, the winner finished in 4:20. I felt I ran o.k to be within an hour of that!

Overall, I thought it was a real gem of an event. It was a simple, basic format with no chip-timing or medals but was well-organised. The scenery was great. The marshals were helpful. Parking was easy and the facilities at the Football Centre were excellent, with showers and refreshments after the race included in the £9 entry fee (yes, only £9!). I really enjoyed it and plan on going back. Please don't tell too many people about it or it will get over-subscribed and spoil it!
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